A young Iraqi YouTube star was murdered by her father on January 31st, sparking outrage in a country where women are often targeted by their male relatives in family disputes.
Iraq’s interior ministry spokesman Saad Maan announced the news of the killing on Twitter. The woman, identified as 22-year-old Tiba al-Ali, was killed in the southern province of Diwaniya.
Maan also stated that authorities have tried to mediate between al-Ali, who was visiting the country from Turkey, and her relatives to “resolve the family dispute in a definitive manner.”
Unverified audio recordings of al-Ali and her father’s conversations seemed to show that he disapproved of her choice to live in Turkey.
Protests in Iraq after YouTube star Tiba Ali allegedly strangled by her father in 'honour killing' https://t.co/bYQk0LsCU2
— Sky News (@SkyNews) February 5, 2023
Maan stated that they were surprised the next day when they were informed of her killing at the hands of her father, as he admitted in his initial confessions and after the police’s first encounter with the family. He didn’t give more information about the nature of the dispute.
Tiba al-Ali has gained a significant following on YouTube, with her channel garnering over 25,000 subscribers. She posted her daily life on her channel and often featured her fiance, Mohammad.
Speaking to Agence-France Presse anonymously, a police source verified that the “family dispute” dates back to 2015. The source also said al-Ali traveled to Turkey with her family in 2017 but refused to return with them and chose to stay in Turkey instead, where she has lived ever since.
Al-Ali’s murder ignited outrage and condemnation among Iraqis on social media, who have called for protests in Baghdad on February 5 to demand justice for her death.
Dozens of Iraqi protesters gathered Sunday to decry the so-called "honor killing" of a 22-year-old YouTube star who was allegedly strangled by her father, adding fuel to calls for legal reforms protecting women. https://t.co/hDTL4KL2Pk
— The Associated Press (@AP) February 5, 2023
“Women in our societies are hostage to backward customs due to the absence of legal deterrents and government measures – which currently are not commensurate with the size of domestic violence crimes,” Iraqi politician Ala Talabani wrote on Twitter.
Iraq currently has no laws penalizing domestic violence. A draft domestic violence law was introduced in the Iraqi parliament in 2014. Its passage was stalled after legislators opposed it and expressed concerns that the bill would “erode Iraq’s social fabric.”
Human rights activist Hanaa Edwar told AFP that Al-Ali left her family because her brother was sexually assaulting her, based on the voice recordings attributing her. Although the Iraqi Observatory for Human Rights has also reported the allegation, the AFP couldn’t verify the tapes' authenticity.
“The Iraqi penal code still treats leniently so-called ‘honor crimes’ comprising violent acts such as assault and even murder.” Amnesty International said, condemning the killing and describing it as “horrific.”
Until the Iraqi authorities adopt robust legislation to protect women and girls from gender-based violence, we will inevitably continue to witness horrific murders such as that suffered by Tiba Ali, apparently at the hands of her own father.
— Amnesty Iraq (@AmnestyIraq) February 4, 2023
Aya Majzoub, the human rights organization’s director for the Middle Eastern and Northern Africa region, said, "until the Iraqi authorities adopt robust legislation to protect women and girls … we will inevitably continue to witness horrific murders.”